Public Spaces

Public spaces offer crucial gathering spaces to communities. These spaces should reflect public values, furthering civic ideals of democracy, participation, and education. Increasingly, advertisers are co-opting these spaces, turning them into billboards or purchasing naming rights to them. Pressed by budget shortfalls, legislators and other public officials are allowing this privatization of public spaces to take place. But the commercialization of our public spaces comes at a high cost to communities, that risk losing some of the last vestiges of non-commercial culture.

Commercial alert defends public spaces from commercialism, aiming to preserve spaces that are not for sale.

More Information

News Releases

Commercial Alert Urges CTA Not To Sell Naming Rights, Advertise Alcohol
Robert Weissman and Elizabeth Ben-Ishai | March 26th, 2012

Report: Cash-Strapped Schools Raise Only Minimal Revenues Through In-School Advertising
Elizabeth Ben-Ishai | February 2nd, 2012

Commercial Alert Asks Bush To Defend Reading on the Bus and Train from Noisy TVs
Gary Ruskin | April 16th, 2001

Related Articles and Links

Related Articles

MBTA wonít be capitalizing on station naming rights
Jordan Graham | Boston Herald | February 28th, 2014

Marquee to be unveiled for Va theater bearing cigarette maker Altria Group name
AP | The Republic | February 21st, 2014

Field gets new name
Eileen Zaffiro-Kean | New Journal | February 20th, 2014

Burnsville to sell naming rights to arts center to Ames
Star Tribune | December 14th, 2013

Comcast Center in Mansfield renamed Xfinity Center
Boston Globe | December 11th, 2013

HUNNEMAN: Naming rights are for sale in Temecula
John Hunneman | The Press Enterprise | August 22nd, 2013

Should Seaside Heights Sell the Naming Rights to Get the Boardwalk Restored?
Steve Trevelise | New Jersey 101.5 | November 12th, 2012

City will try to sell naming rights to Columbus Civic Center
Tony Adams | Ledger-Enquirer | October 22nd, 2012

Big Brother, Now at the Mall
Evan Ramstad | Wall Street Journal | October 9th, 2012

Experts: Nationals Park naming rights soaring in value
Ben Fischer | Washington Business Journal | October 3rd, 2012

City explores naming rights, sponsorships to raise revenue
Don Walker | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | September 20th, 2012

ODOT to launch ads at rest stops, sell naming rights to roads and bridges
Tom Breckenridge | The Plain Dealer | September 19th, 2012

Naming rights considered for Frederick ball field
abc27 | September 19th, 2012

City to Take Bids on Ball Court, Dog Run Sponsorship
Alec Hamilton | WNYC | September 10th, 2012

Naming Rights Are Viable Funding Tool
Editorial | Yankton Daily Press and Dakotan | August 7th, 2012

Public Naming Rights ó And Wrongs
Ed Fouhy | WBUR | August 1st, 2012

Not So Fast: Transportation Bill Amendment Would Restrict MBTAís Ability to Sell Station Naming Righ
Steve Annear | BostInno | July 31st, 2012

GE Gallery Launches in Billboard-Free Sao Paulo
Claudia Penteado and Laurel Wentz | Ad Age | July 30th, 2012

Virginia drafting rules for highway naming
Liz Essley | Washington Examiner | July 23rd, 2012

City may sell naming rights to Point, arena
Bernie Hornick | The Tribune Democrat | July 23rd, 2012

M.T.A. Opens Front of MetroCard to Advertising
MATT FLEGENHEIMER | New York Times | July 19th, 2012

City hires advertising consultant
John Byrne | Chicago Tribune | July 16th, 2012

Metro looks again to modify station naming policy
Kytja Weir | Washington Examiner | July 13th, 2012

Should cities sell ads to fund public services?
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation | July 10th, 2012

Selling the names of T stations cheapens the public realm
Editorial | Boston Globe | July 9th, 2012

Baltimore may sell ads on fire trucks
NBC | July 2nd, 2012

MBTA may sell station names
Alejandra Matos | Boston Globe | June 27th, 2012

Fire Trucks in Baltimore: Brought to You by...
PRI's The Takeaway | June 26th, 2012

Your Ad Here, on a Fire Truck? Broke Cities Sell Naming Rights
Michael Cooper | The New York Times | June 25th, 2012

ODOT considers naming rights on highways
13 ABC | June 20th, 2012

Ohio to Monetize Bridges, Toilets With Naming Rights
Mark Niquette and Brian Chappatt | Business Week | June 19th, 2012

This rest area brought to you by the makers of Ö Charmin?
WILLIAM PETROSKI | Des Moines Register | June 14th, 2012

Cook County (your ad here): Is effort to sell naming rights worth it?
Kate MacArthur | Chicago Business | June 11th, 2012

Cook County looks at naming rights to raise money
John Byrne and Hal Dardick | Chicago Tribune | May 25th, 2012

Highways rife with features for naming
Joe Blundo | Columbus Dispatch | May 24th, 2012

City tells Miami Heat to remove tire ads wrapped on palm trees at arena
ANDRES VIGLUCCI | Miami Herald | May 10th, 2012

Ads As Art: Hand-Painted Wall Ads Make Comeback
Washington Post | May 8th, 2012

Boeing Bridge? Wash. lawmaker eyes naming rights
Associated Press | The Olympian | May 3rd, 2012

Advertising signs on state trails an abomination; Scott should veto bill
Editorial | Bradenton Herald | April 24th, 2012

Miamiís LED billboards not allowed under Miami-Dade sign laws, county attorney says
ANDRES VIGLUCCI | Miami Herald | April 23rd, 2012

Ban outdoor advertising
Neal Lawson | The Guardian | April 20th, 2012

Are city commissioners desperate, insensitive or greedy?
Michael Lewis | Miami Today | April 19th, 2012

Illuminated billboards could soon light up city of Miami buildings, parks
Charles Rabin | Miami Herald | April 13th, 2012

Not the best sign, but . . .
Editorial | Miami Herald | April 12th, 2012

Growth of LED billboards puts Miami, county at odds
ANDRES VIGLUCCI | Miami Herald | April 10th, 2012

Why would anyone buy naming rights to a highway?
Daniel Nasaw | BBC | March 28th, 2012

Name a Virginia road for $5,000 to $200,000
Liz Essley | The Washington Examiner | March 19th, 2012

Many 1-800-GET-THIN freeway billboards disappear
Stuart Pfeifer | Los Angeles Times | March 15th, 2012

The Rise of 'Visual Pollution' and the Fight to Stop It
Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg | The Atlantic | March 7th, 2012

Possible Jones Park sponsorships raise concerns
Rebecca Powers | WLOX 13 | March 7th, 2012

City wants to sell naming rights at harbor
Anita Lee | Sun Herald | March 5th, 2012

Should Corporations Bankroll National Parks?
Kate Sheppard | Mother Jones | March 5th, 2012

Funding gap has library mulling more ads
Samina Esha | The National Post | February 29th, 2012

Let's resist urge to sell out school buses, nature trails for cash
Beth Kassab | Orlando Sentinel | February 28th, 2012

New OOH Buy Mortgages The House, Literally
Erik Sass | MediaPost News | February 16th, 2012

Obama Could Resurrect Naming Rights Value For Bank Of America Stadium
Lee Igel | Forbes | February 16th, 2012

City to look at selling naming rights
Betsy Bloom | LaCrosse Tribune | February 3rd, 2012

Thumb down: Florida lawmakers should reject proposal to sell naming rights for school cafeterias, ad
Editorial | TCPalm | January 30th, 2012

Brand names and lawmakers' games
Daniel Ruth | Tampa Bay Times | January 24th, 2012

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell Plans To Commercialize The Commute, Sell Roads' Naming Rights
Matt Sledge | Huffington Post | January 24th, 2012

Whopper Highway? Virginia considers selling road-naming rights
Richard Simon | Los Angeles Times | January 23rd, 2012

Bill would allow Florida to sell naming rights to state-owned facilities
Kathleen McGrory | Miami Herald | January 23rd, 2012

Governor wants to sell naming rights for roads, bridges
CHELYEN DAVIS | Fedricksburg.com | January 23rd, 2012

Bill to OK sale of naming rights for state trails passes through committee
Bruce Ritchie | The Current | January 12th, 2012

Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in Los Angeles Hits the Streets
Coalition to Ban Alcohol Ads on Public Property in Los Angeles | MarketWatch, WSJ | January 9th, 2012

The Problem with Naming Transit Stations
Eric Jaffe | The Atlantic | January 9th, 2012

The T's naming rights deal
January 9th, 2012

Public Citizen Objects to Selling Naming Rights to Public Transport
Ruth McCambridge | Nonprofit Quarterly | December 22nd, 2011

Branson City Officials Hear 'Clean-Up Ordinance'; Business Calls it Targeted
Joanna Small and Joel Girdner | KSPR | December 14th, 2011

Billboards and parks don't mix
Editorial | Los Angeles Times | December 5th, 2011

Should schools, cities and landmarks be selling ad space?
Patt Morrison Show | KPCC | December 2nd, 2011

USPS Selling Advertising on Trucks in Pilot Program
Kerem Ozkan, Riley Wilson | Advertising Age | December 2nd, 2011

Creek Naming Rights Being Auctioned On eBay
KCCI | December 1st, 2011

Cash-strapped cities, schools say: 'Your Ad Here'
CARLA K. JOHNSON | Associated Press | November 28th, 2011

Oregon airport to put giant ads on control tower
AP | WGME | November 18th, 2011

Dissent over proposed gift, new name at MAM
Hannah Sampson | Miami Herald | November 18th, 2011

"This Space Available": Film Looks At Advertising As Visual Pollution in Public Spaces
Kimberley Mok | TreeHugger | November 4th, 2011

Neighbors battle food carts in Dolores Park
Stephanie Lee | SFGate | November 2nd, 2011

Clean ads create a stir in San Francisco
Jonathan Bloom | ABC News | November 1st, 2011

Ron Kaye: Naming rights are a sign of the times
Ron Kaye | The Burbank Leader | October 31st, 2011

Let Them Advertise! Candidate Jan Perry Says YES to Signs in City Parks
Dennis Hathaway | City Watch | October 31st, 2011

Hey, Advertisers: New York Has a Bridge to Sell You
Rich Thomaselli | AdAge | October 27th, 2011

McDonald's to launch in-store channel
Greg Braxton and Joe Flint | Los Angeles Times | October 17th, 2011

Ad firm behind 'supergraphics' sued by city of Los Angeles
Los Angeles Times | September 19th, 2011

Some Cabbies Given Right to Say No to Racy Ads
The New York Times | September 16th, 2011

Subvertising: billboard ads for the public interest
The Ecologist | May 11th, 2011

Calvin Klein Controversy: New Billboard Dropping the F-Bomb?
Fox News | April 1st, 2011

Power-slurping signs
Philadelphia Inquirer | March 21st, 2011

Planters' Campaign: Sustainability Plus
Media Post | February 24th, 2011

Mr. Peanutís New Car Drives Us Nuts
Wired | February 22nd, 2011

Airborne Advertising Rises to New Heights
Alana Semuels | Los Angeles Times | April 7th, 2009

Name That Dog Park: Suffolk Courts Deals for Cash
Annie Correal | The New York Times | March 18th, 2009

Suffolk Plan to Sell Naming Rights at County Parks
Rick Brand | Newsday | March 8th, 2009

DNR Park-Naming Group Weighs Dollars vs. Ethics
Howard Meyerson | The Grand Rapids Press | February 22nd, 2009

An Ad Network in Times Square
Stuart Elliott | The New York Times | November 19th, 2008

The Train Is Coming. And With It, More Ads.
Stephanie Clifford | The New York Times | October 16th, 2008

Electronic Billboards to Appear in Venice's St. Mark's Square
Emma Hall | Advertising Age | September 3rd, 2008

You Are Here (and Probably Seeing an Ad)
Stuart Elliot | The New York Times | August 14th, 2008

Waterfront Toronto Considers Selling Naming Rights to Public Parks, Spaces
The Canadian Press | April 6th, 2008

NY Public Library 'Trades Naming Rights' to Greedy Hedge Fund Billionaire for Big Bucks
David Morris | AlterNet | March 24th, 2008

City of Miami Putting 'For Sale' Sign on Names of City Parks
Risa Polansky | Miami Today | March 22nd, 2008

Court: Cities Can Ban Electronic Signs
Associated Press | November 9th, 2007

Visual Pollution
The Economist | October 11th, 2007

The Ad Blitzers' Facade
Tom Robbins | Village Voice | October 10th, 2007

Nude Dancer Greets Air Travelers
Associated Press | June 14th, 2007

What's in a School Name? Maybe Money, Maybe Public Service; Policy's in the Works
Jo Collins Mathis | The Ann Arbor News | June 13th, 2007

Subways Tune in to New Revenue
Larry Copeland | USA Today | April 8th, 2005

Reach Out and Annoy Someone
Jonathan Rowe | Washington Monthly | October 31st, 2004

Commercials on the TVs of 150 Milwaukee County Buses Causing Passenger and Driver Complaints
Marti Mikkelson | May 29th, 2003

Commercials on the TVs of 150 Milwaukee County Buses Causing Passenger and Driver
Bob Edwards | National Public Radio (NPR) | May 29th, 2003

Advertisers Seek Out City Buses to Broadcast Their Latest Pitches
Robert Johnson | Wall Street Journal | February 21st, 2001

Letter to Massachusetts Governor Cellucci asking him not to sell the naming rights to subway stations
Ralph Nader | January 23rd, 2001

External Links

Noise Pollution Clearinghouse